MANWOMAN: 'be a friend to a swastika today'
"He knew he hadn't changed that much. He was the same, fun-loving kid who worshipped James Dean, loved to party, drink, dance, and roar around town in his '49 Ford with flames painted on the side...except that 30 years ago he woke from his sleep, floated out of his body and was touched by God."
-- David Staples, Edmonton Journal

Email: [email protected]
Snail mail: 221 eleventh Ave. S. Cranbrook, BC, Canada V1C 2P6

Welcome Home It was February 5th, 1965 -- three days after my twenty-seventh birthday. I was in a little town called Rocky Mountain House teaching an oil painting class for Alberta Culture. I rode up there from Edmonton once a month on the Greyhound. I had stayed up late drinking pots of coffee with the ladies in my class. I was lying in a hotel bed trying to sleep. Finally, after what seemed hours, my mind was in the twilight. But instead of slipping into sleep, I slipped into a totally unexpected dimension -- Like a key going into the wrong keyhole!

Suddenly, I was rushing upwards at tremendous speed. There was a rushing sound around me which was revving up with great intensity. It was like a tornado and it's power could not be resisted; It was like a raging fire, an unforgettable sound. I became aware of the color orange about me. The color was vivid and beautifully transparent. It was like the orange one sees when looking at a bright light through closed eyelids, elusive and radiant. (At this time I knew nothing of Kundalini yoga).

Above was a light which was beyond description. As the sound wound up to a peak of intensity, I experienced fear as I thought that I was dying. My body felt bound but taking courage I surrendered myself to it. Immediately, I was drawn up into the light and dissolved into pieces of yellow. I became one with the light. For an eternal moment I rested there beyond all in unspeakable oneness, consumed by ecstasy. Slowly I became conscious in the world. As soon as I returned to my body, I threw myself on the floor in the attitude of profound surrender. I was in the presence of love. These visions promoted devotion in me -- not devotion to anything external like church but devotion to the Eternal God-of-my-heart.

All the next day I was in a strange enchanted world of light and radiance. My spirit floated in the sky and I remembered God's kiss like a schoolboy's first date. I could barely remember to catch the bus back to Edmonton. I was on cloud nine, drowned in timelessness. I suffered from a serious case of astonishment -- I was touched! For one whole year I was flooded with all the classic mystical experiences -- heart openings, third eye openings, flights of ecstasy, feeling of oneness with all things. A new day had dawned -- a day such as I had never known! When I got home I ran to tell my wife the good news but she was baffled!

My visions were a preview of death. They terrified me and caused havoc in my family life. I tried to fulfil my family duties but God ambushed me around every corner -- even in my sleep! (And by God I mean the Goddess of the Heart -- not Big Daddy in the Sky but an all embracing, vortex of Love).

My transformation into the Outsider was complete -- no one could understand me now! I tried to tell my landlady but I got looks of utter disbelief. I tried to tell my students but they edged quietly away. I was utterly alone! But I was being taught by a wisdom deep inside myself and I summoned all the courage I had to continue. I was drunk with love! I was intoxicated! Every object glowed with God, sparkled with unearthly light. Heaven had descended to earth. The cosmic had invaded.

Neither the Catholic church nor the zen beatniks had prepared me for this! Love had embraced me and offered utter forgiveness of all my burdens. But I could not forgive myself. I was too weak, too impure, too ignorant, too deluded, too prejudiced, too imprisoned, too sorrowful, too angry, too full of flaws to be one with God -- I was a red-neck kid from Cranbrook! How could one as impure as me be a channel for a perfection that took my breath away? My childhood religious training provided me with the script -- that of the hard struggle of a saint to master himself through severe trials. (Because of an earlier out-of-body experience when I was 19, I had tried to become a Trappist monk but the monks told me I'd have to give up art.)

The boundary between art and life had blurred. I was in shock. A wave of chaos tore thru my life. Never had I heard that such an experience was possible! Nothing in my early life had prepared me for this moment! Was I supposed to leave my wife and children and run off into the wilderness? The Man and Woman inside of me drowned in each other. I was given a new name ManWoman in my dreams. At first, I was terrified of dying as the Eternal embraced my soul! I was inflamed by the spontaneous combustion of ecstasy!

It was the face of God that made me die, made me transform into ManWoman. The piercing light of truth was death to my limited notions of who I was. I had to fight the religious lies of my childhood. The biggest lie was the belief that I was separate from God. Patrick Charles Kemball believed in this lie and suffered. Jesus had said that the kingdom of heaven was within me -- that I was one with the father, that I was holy. The church in defiance of his words had said that I was a wretched sinner, a lost soul in need of redemption. Patrick Charles Kemball bit the dust forever -- abandoned like an old suit that no longer fit! I actually dug a grave in the back yard and put a notice of death on my back door -- Rest In Peace. My landlady was going crazy!

From this point on I had continuous dreams in which I was both Man and Woman in the same body. People in my dreams called me ManWoman. I fought against this for a while knowing that my friends were all talking about me behind my back, thinking I'd gone totally crackers. Being ManWoman I felt whole and complete -- as if I'd spent my life seeking that lost female part of myself and then suddenly there it was. It was as if I'd had sex with the inner me! I started signing my paintings ManWoman. I felt I'd been given a task, a mission.

I dreamed that I was imprisoned inside a tree. A nun in white robes let me out. I was ManWoman, totally transformed, healed and unified. My arms were full of drawings rolled up, plans for a new spiritual path, that was now my job to reveal. I took these dreams very seriously.

Was I losing my mind as everyone seemed to think? From my point of view I had finally found my mind. I was merely isolated from others by something I could not share. I was obsessed by something that was invisible to everyone but me. My visions were direct experience rather than religious dogma. Union with God was not one of the expectations of my generation.

After this I discovered Teilhard de Chardin, Jacob Boehme, Meister Eckhart, George Fox, Plotinus, and many other mystics. It helped me cope with the rejection of a world that saw me as a freak in order to persevere in my task to be God's artist. That was the vow I made -- come hell or high water I'd see this dream thru to it's conclusion no matter what martyrdom befell me. It was the vow of a young man with stars in his eyes who believed in the impossible dream. Little did I know what would be asked of me. When I dared to face God in the abyss of silence I was reborn like the phoenix in flames of love. This was the beginning of incredible magic in my life. In the privacy of my lookout tower where I watched for forest fires during the summers, I experimented with wearing women's clothing just to try to understand my dreams. What was a Man-Woman? How was I to be Man-Woman? My dreams weren't clear. Was I turning into an outrageous queer? Wearing women's panties, nailpolish, lipstick, etc. only made me horny. Maybe that's why they did it? I grew my nails long on my left hand. I didn't want to be a woman. Although I was cross-dressing, I was doing it like a shaman -- to become whole! The word hermaphrodite comes from the union of the Greek god Hermes and the goddess Aphrodite -- implying the oneness of the eternal powers. Many cultures have legends about hermaphroditic gods. God cannot be onesided -- only a he and not a she. We need a new pronoun like he-she. In India, Shiva is known as The Lord Who's Half Woman. ManWoman was invented by my deepest self to express this wholeness.

How far would I go in becoming a ManWoman? There is a sect in India made up of eunuchs called Hyjira who have castrated themselves in order to transcend gender. They call each other "she." The forest rangers who dropped off my food looked askance at my painted fingernails -- and rolled their eyes! They were just ordinary guys and didn't understand my gestalt, my Church of Creative Imagination!

ManWoman's head tattoo by Tigger, Flash by Leo Zulueta ManWoman's head tattoo by Tigger, Flash by Leo Zulueta

In my soul's upward flight, I had entered the womb of the sacred. This inner light was a swastika of creative energy -- the source of all life! This is how I began my lifelong search for the historic truth about the swastika and my journey to detoxify it from the sins of the Nazis -- my journey to re-sanctify it. Because , if there was an image that represented the gods for me from this point on it was the swastika. Yes, I choked big time on it because I was a little boy during the war and some of my Polish relatives were in Auschwitz. They were going crazy because I was telling them that this hated swastika which had killed millions of people was a sacred symbol for God.

My dreams were my guide:

A radiant holy man showed me glowing symbols of the Eternal. One of them was a swastika. He said, "Take this as your sign and redeem it so that it will strike love in all hearts that behold it." He then marked a white swastika on my throat with his finger so that I would be able to speak the truth about it. I choked, as I knew what hatred was stricken in all hearts by this sign and what an impossible task lay before me! This unleashed a flood of swastika dreams, hundreds of playful swastika dreams. I thought of the torture, the racism, and the cruelty of the Nazis which looking at the swastika invoked in me. But my dreams insisted on calling the swastika "Angel Power" in reference to its spiritual meaning: I went upstairs to an art studio. All the woman's paintings were nude self-portraits in a pose imitating a Swastika.

I had a childs' skipping rope. The blue handles were covered with joyous, white Swastikas. Florence Nightingale was dressed in white. I saw on her breast a Swastika in beautiful colors. The waitress at Swastika Cafe wore a blue dress covered in white Swastikas.

ManWoman's arms I had never wanted a tattoo -- a skull with a dagger or "Mom" in a heart. In those days only "lowlifes" got tattooed and there was no such thing as tribal tattooing. But in 1969, I kept dreaming that I had a swastika on my baby finger. Sonny, a wonderful hippy freak with jailhouse tattoos, tattooed me using primitive needles. He broke the point off a pencil and secured two needles on either side of the sharpened slope with wound thread so that their points met. He then dripped wax on the thread to hold it all rigid. He lit a match and sterilized the needles in the flame. He then dipped the needles in India ink and began the laborious task of poking the ink under the skin. He learned this trick in jail where he had many hours to kill. He now branded me forever with the most notorious symbol of the twentieth century that just happened to be the emblem of the ancient God-song that sang the world into being.

Tattooing hurts, especially the homemade kind -- stab by painful stab! I never enjoyed this process for the pain -- I tolerated it for my high purpose because of my insistent dreams. I thought this would be my one and only tattoo. How wrong I was!

In a dream, I saw an exciting happening in the night sky -- a white swastika flashing and spinning. The swastika was as cosmic as a moon or star. It was full of high-level, spiritual energy. For me, it stood for the creative, primal energy of my being that I experience during meditation. I rose up smiling into the Cosmic Swastika... pulsating with energy... dizzy with ecstasy... and I knew that I was Swastika... I was being... my blood was Swastika... my bones were Swastika... the rapture of Swastika melted me!

This is why I came to love the swastika -- because it represents the power within us which is inside all of life. Beyond the body we are immersed in the blissful energy of the Eternal, but few of us experience it directly! All the half-forgotten deities associated with the swastika (Thor, Apollo, Shiva, Aphrodite, Venus, Jupiter) are only human expressions of this ultimate creative force.

At my lookout tower, I tattooed tiny swastikas and tiny skulls on my fingers to help me enter the after-death state of serenity and holiness. Using a sharpened pen nib and India ink, I tattooed a seven on the underside of my penis hoping to transcend the ego -- to surrender to spirituality. Number one is the ego. Number seven is the number one bent over in surrender -- that's why it's the magic number. Surrender allows the cosmic inflowing.

I tattooed vagina-shaped wounds, the stigmata of Christ, on my body -- one on my breast and one on each hand and foot -- representing the cosmic man who's body encompasses eternity, bridging the male-female gap. The crucifixion was symbolic of blood-letting, the mystic menstruation that I was undergoing. In a dream, I saw elegant, white swans on a pond. They took themselves very seriously. Nearby was a laughable little duck saying, "Quack, quack, quack," and paddling joyously about. I was told that the swans represented humorless gurus and their lofty ideals. The duck was the path I was to initiate of cheerfulness and play. The little duck on the pond then became a dot on each of my middle fingers. I knew that this dot needed to be tattooed as a reminder not to get lost in seriousness but to make fun my pathway. I tattooed the dots immediately after waking up. In a dream, a man said that the Nazis had stolen the swastika from me. He pointed to my hands which were tattooed in the dream with sacred swastikas from many cultures around the world. I laughed as Naziism was before my time and he suggested that I was ancient.

In another dream, I saw that my hands were full of swastikas, creative power entrusted to me to help people attain a more spiritual life. It was as if my hands were full of the sacred and I was chosen to do some great task. I would now tattoo them on my hands in real life as my commitment to the gods. The swastika was my sacred symbol. There was no way around this truth.

I had no community of friends who accepted my behavior -- I was out on a limb. There was no cultural acceptance for spiritual tattooing but I finally gave in to my numinous dreams. I went down to Pat's Tattooing on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton but he refused to do them. He had a sign on the wall -- NO HANDS OR FACES. Tattooers had a rule in those days and would only do tattoos where they could be covered by clothing because tattoos were a social stigma. You couldn't get most jobs if you had visible tattoos -- you could only work in carnivals.

A year later Pat moved to San Francisco and Fat Rick, his associate, was more lenient. I already had poorly done homemade work on my hands so he finished them. My tattoos were symmetrical. The swastikas on my left hand faced left -- the swastikas on my right hand faced right. My arms, chest and back were later done by a biker named Sudsy.

What was I, a peaceful mystic who had almost become a Trappist monk, doing in a tattoo parlor desecrating my flesh? Had I lost my senses? Was I offering my body as retribution for the sins of the Nazis? No, after my up-through-the-tunnel-into-the-light experiences, I saw that people are linked to the same inner dreams and we long to understand, worship, appease, befriend, or celebrate the cosmic forces that mystify and intrigue us. The swastika is the mark of the vagina of the Goddess that gave birth to the universe! The ancients were aware of this and sometimes portrayed it as four penises penetrating a central vagina, the approach to a sacred place.

For many millenia, before it was appropriated by the Nazis, the swastika was a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Almost every race, religion and continent honored the swastika -- a perfect example of the universal spread of a symbol thru the collective unconscious.

In the years to come, I would discover the truth about the swastika as used by American Indians, Hindus, Buddhists, Vikings, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Mayans, Aztecs, Persians, Christians, and neolithic tribes. There are even Jewish swastikas found in ancient synagogues side-by-side with the star of David!

The swastika was associated with the hammer of Thor which returned to him like a boomerang, the footprints of Buddha, the emblem of Shiva, Apollo, Jupiter, and even Jesus Christ! The swastika was the first Christian symbol and is found in the catacombs in Rome. Hindus and Buddhists to this day still revere the swastika as their sacred sign. Jains make the sign of the swastika similar to the Christian sign of the cross. In the early part of the twentieth century Rudyard Kipling used the swastika as his coat-of-arms, Coca Cola made a swastika-shaped lucky watch fob, American pilots used it on their planes when they fought for the French in World War One, it was the symbol for the Ladies Home Journal sponsored Girls' Club and the Boy Scouts. A town in Ontario was named Swastika in 1911 because of a lucky gold strike. For the story on its vast sacred history, you'll have to wait until my book Gentle Swastika is published. It has been rejected by some of the most radical underground publishers including Feral House because it's still such a hot issue. But at this time I knew none of the swastika's vast history -- I was going by blind faith!

My first wife hated my tattoos and complained bitterly -- I was not the man she'd married. I was changing into something she didn't understand. Other people asked her, "Why does he do that?" She feared for my future -- where was this was leading me? She feared I would lose my job. Hell I almost lost my job because I pierced my ears! (things have changed) Every new tattoo further wreaked my chances of a normal life with her. My mother complained that my tattoos hurt her. "Not half as much as they hurt me, Ma."

To make me even more misunderstood, Charley Manson, serial killer now in jail, carved a swastika on his forehead -- thousands of people choked on their TV dinners. He did that to create fear, the only power he could still have in jail -- and it worked. He was using our conditioning against us. This reinforced everyone's fears of tattoos and swastikas. In movies, tattooed hippies played the bad guys. Citizens edged even further away from me -- especially on elevators. But my swastikas meant love -- the opposite of Hitler and Manson.

In a dream, I saw Hitler preaching on a street corner. I tore the swastika off of his armband and gave it back to the people. Immediately Hitler shrank and everyone wondered why he had seemed so powerful before?


I encountered enormous resistance to my use of the swastika. Most people who had been born since World War II had never heard of any sacred swastikas or good luck swastikas. Only a few of the old folks remembered it. How could I overcome the enormous prejudice against it that was reinforced by the media constantly?

I felt badly about the Jews who burned holes in me with their eyes when they saw me. It was impossible to explain to each one that my swastika was the exact opposite in meaning to the one Hitler had used. How could I explain this truth to someone passing me on the street in twenty-five words or less? I was not anti-Semitic but a shadow was cast over me by mis-understanding. There wasn't a good swastika in the eyes of the public -- only the dreaded sign that struck terror in decent folks. Sometimes Hindus lament to me that they are afraid to wear their swastika charms which honor Ganesha and Shiva and Kali. How they'd like to walk down the street in the West openly displaying it just as a Christian wears his cross.

So I set about trying to design a swastika no one would hate-my greatest challenge as an artist! I came up with the Gentle Swastika design filled with doves of peace that I had tattooed on my back. It may surprise you to know that I have totally shed the negative associations of the swastika that I inherited as a child.

Leo Zulueta tattooing ManWoman Leo Zulueta tattooing ManWoman

How have I fared with swastika tattoos on my arms in a society which both detests and fears it? I could tell you some stories! In fact I must tell you a few short anecdotes. One day an old man, seeing my arm tattoos, ran across the street and started whacking me with his cane and shouting "Fascist!" I kept cool and started telling him about the swastika's sacred history, and he began edging away as if discovering that he was dealing with a truly insane and dangerous person. I followed him up the street lecturing while he kept me at my distance, now using his cane defensively.

When I was on Venice Beach one afternoon, three angry young Jewish body-builders threatened to rip me apart. Most people don't accost me because they mistake me for a biker, but these guys were big! I thought about telling them that the swastika was an ancient Hebrew religious sign, which it is, but I knew this would be greeted with total disbelief. I'm no martyr, so I shamelessly told them I was a Buddhist just to save my skin. They were astonished when I told them I was not anti-Semitic. I was also thrown out of a Hollywood Jewish restaurant even though I love bagels. The proprietors didn't want to hear that it was a good luck sign! Going home to Canada a hitchiker leapt out of my car even tho' she was desperate for a ride.

One time I was in Fort Worth entering a hotel with my new wife, who preceded me. She turned around, her face pale, and said, "Oh, my God, it's a reunion of B-17 bomber pilots! We'd better go in the back door!" So I charged boldly in, and in the end they all wanted to be photographed with me to prove my existence to their friends back home.

Whenever I travel, I always get to the airport early because customs officials go cross-eyed when they see my swasi tats. Their I.Q. seems to diminish and their emotional level takes over. After checking with their computers and phoning the R.C.M.P. to find that I'm clean, they still seem bewildered. "I know you're guilty of something."

My swastika tattoos make me into an unwilling outlaw because of other people's beliefs. When I am in a crowd, certain people make a beeline towards me. These are often free-thinking poets or artists whom I draw like a magnet. The ones who avoid me have edited themselves out of my life, saving me the bother. In a crowded swimming pool I have plenty of room. It's almost as if my swasi tats are somehow contagious or able to float across the water and attach themselves like little bugs!

Always someone was barking round my ankles like a small dog -- trying to bring me down! There were those who said that my visions were caused by a short-circuit in my brain. But I accepted the mission that was laid upon me -- not only to seek my own enlightenment but to be unswerving in my dedication to this vision that the swastika is a sacred symbol, the ecstasy of existence. If I'm shunned for following my truth -- so be it! If I'm seen as a Nazi biker transvestite so be it! If I'm a total social outcast -- so be it!

Some of my friends feel that I ruined my art career by two actions -- taking the name ManWoman and taking the swastika as my sacred symbol. I had to stand by my dream or I had to submit to the public dream -- that I couldn't do and still be true to myself!

Berlin Wall Swastika Exorcism by ManWoman

In another of my spiritual awakenings, I woke out of a dream in which I went to a window which was a post office. A radiant woman in a white robe was the clerk. She made up my letters very beautifully in a twinkle, without having to ask me what to say to whom. I was amazed and asked her, "why the extra service?" She said, "Someone as poor as you deserves something special". Immediately, I was transfixed on the ground. It was no dream but an extremely heightened consciousness. My body seemed bound (this may be due to the trance-like condition of my body during these visions). I could sense the unspeakable sacredness of the moment. My whole being was gripped with ecstatic agony; a pain in my breast and a pain in my forehead being the most pronounced. My heart and mind were infused with the absolute limit of light. It was like being struck by lightning. To my unprepared soul enlightenment was very painful. I begged for it to stop. Slowly it subsided.

Then the loving fire began. I heard a strange crackling sound. It had tremendous power behind it. I felt a warmth at my breast. I saw tongues of flame on my body. I felt the purifying force of it. I felt great joy and loving tenderness. I prayed for an increase of love and instantly it was increased with such power and to such an extent that I became pure light like a glowing, white-hot ingot in a furnace. I cried, "Enough, Enough!" I thought that I would burn to a cinder. The fire slowly subsided until finally I was left with great love, and in stillness and peace -- hushed, healed and soothed by love. I had died into love. How to describe this love, this total consummation of my soul? Where had love been all my life? I felt like a prisoner let out of jail after twenty-seven years of confinement and deprivation. The aftereffect lasted for days as I drifted along oblivious to the world. I was still visible to others but I was a million miles away. I was in another dimension where love reigned!

Remember I had no teacher, no tradition to follow, I called this experience The Secret Doctrine of the Holy Fuck! I later found out that the yogis have all of this catalogued. This was the opening of the third eye and heart centers in the Kundalini yoga/chakra system. The third eye is the center of intuition, insight, and psychic perceptions. The heart is the center where love and compassion flow. I had many dreams of tattoos in both these locations.

When Fat Rick tattooed my third-eye in 1974, it ended my first marriage. My wife was concerned that I was turning myself into a freak. Part of me also feared my growing outrageousness -- society has a way of shunning those who stray from the fold. People did not understand my vision, my tattoo journey, nor did they want to. I was already given a wide berth on the streets. When I first went to Fat Rick about the third-eye tat he said, "Sometimes people change their mind after they cool off on an idea. If you're still painting that eye on a year from now I'll do it." That was good advice kids. Have I ever regretted my tattoos? Not for a minute!


I continuously dreamed of skulls -- I'd be riding on a skull motorcycle, driving a skull car, living in a skull house. Because these experiences of mine were previews of death -- what we will all see when Mr. Death taps us on the shoulder. The skulls express the ego death of the transcendental state where we cease to be located in a body and feel at one with the bliss of the Eternal. Mr. Death came dancing thru my dreams, he's first cousin to Mr. Peanut. He became a costume for Hallowe'en one year. I take him to art show openings, to parades. He's on a T-shirt -- he's cool, he's debonair! I want him to greet the guests at my funeral. In my painting Welcome Home, Mr. Death urges us to transcend the ego and experience eternal love so we can enjoy richer lives. I stole Mr. Death's dance step from Fred Astaire who had just died. The old-fashioned religious icons of yesterday no longer reach the contemporary heart. I call my alternative Church Punk.


I didn't think about it at the time but symmetry is a common factor in spiritual art -- related to the mandala, the focus on a center and also the idea of balance. Just as I always sign my name with a capital W so that Man and Woman are equally valued. In psychology the masculine side of each of us is the waking, active , doing self. The feminine side is the dreaming, psychic, intuitive, receptive self. Both are necessary for wholeness -- the right and left sides of the brain.


For along time I didn't do much swastika art. It's hard enough to sell art without swastikas. Swastikas still offend most westerners thanks to WWII. Swastikaphobia is so prevalent! Some of my new work has swastikas related to the sexual/spiritual energies.

Being a tattooed artist would kill your art career. Being an artist tattooed with swastikas would doubly kill your art career. Being an artist named ManWoman tattooed with swastikas was the kiss of death as far as the art world, the commercial galleries, etc, However, people seek me out, now years later I have lots of fans that hate the meaningless crap that hangs in most galleries. My art is about my soul's journey, about my infiltration of the spiritual into the crass world we live in. It's about me shedding the hang-ups of being born a Catholic and growing up in an era infested with Victorian morals and toxic mythology -- what I call the imprisonment of the pleasure principle, the hatred of the body. I had read all those books where Saint Francis of Assisi calls his body Brother Ass, where Saint Theresa of Avila called her body a Piece of Mud to be dispised. As a child I was taught that if you wanted to pleased God you should be dead from the neck down -- the body was just a beast of burden. I now know that the sexual/spiritual energy is one and we have bred a race of dead people in the name of Jesus.

We, the undersigned, declare the swastika to be innocent of the crimes perpetrated in its name under the Nazi banners. Five years of war cannot be allowed to wipe out five thousand years of sacred history. We declare that the swastika has an independent life. We say, "To hell with Hitler"
Since Modern Primitives, I get mail from all over the world from individuals who love what I'm doing. Everywhere I go people come up to me on the street to discuss Swastika history. They send me swasi stuff from other countries and I have a constant flow of pilgrims who come to see my collection. The International Friends of the Swastika is rapidly becoming a global grass-roots movement. A Declaration of Independence proclaiming the innocence of the Swastika is being signed by artists, poets, tattooers and others, including Lyle Tuttle, the grandaddy of the tattoo revival; Leo Zulueta, the king of tribal tattoos, Hanky Panky of Amsterdam, Billy Shire of La Luz de Jesus, Spider Webb, Robert Delford Brown, Clayton Patterson, Bob Roberts, Steve Bonge, Chris Pfouts, Jonathan Shaw and Paul Jeffries to name a few of the better known.

Craig Stecyk III of Juxtapoz magazine did an eight-page spread on artists who are using the Swastika. There's a video called Weird and Wonderful where I talk about swastikas that's been getting lots of play in Canada. Several men have sent me photos of their own Swastika tattoos and brands, men who are not neo-Nazis.

The Swastika is re-emerging in the alternative pop culture much to the shock of those who are still thinking in the old idiom. I've seen it in the punk rock world. I've seen it in the flying saucer cults. I've seen it in the street gangs used as a tribal mark with Mayan connections. I've seen it appearing in tribal tattoos like Celtic knots, Maori spirals, the Buddhist seal of perfection. It's historic roots are honored by tattoo artists, who have gone to ancient cultures for graphics that give expression to the emerging new spirituality, a spirituality that values the body and sexuality. Your own daughter could come home with a dainty Swastika tattoo!

We seek to resanctify the swastika thru education and pop culture. I'm working on a Friends of the Swastika website. You'll be able to sign the declaration by Email, check out tons of intriguing photos, graphics, get swasi tattoo flash, and a nifty T-shirt that I'm now printing showing ancient Swastikas from around the world (a design that Vale says should have been in Modern Primitives), contribute your own stories or swasi discoveries, and possibly a chat line. This is all new to me but I'm tired of being the mystic in the backwoods of Canada and I crave interaction.

Photo credits: Leo Zulueta tattooing ManWoman (Gary Pressman, 1995); ManWoman's arms and head (Harry Kemball, 1996); Gentle Swastika (Harry Kemball). Learn even more about ManWoman on his web page at
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